SCHOOL COUNSELORS’ ROLES IN PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF HIV AND AIDS IN NIGERIA
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One of the leading causes of premature death in the last twenty years has been the scourge of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The disease, AIDS, was first heard of in 1981. Within twenty years, it spread to all continents of the world and remains a great killer to which no man has found a solution. In 1988 alone, about 5.8 million new cases occurred, bringing the total number of people living with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus/AIDS by December, 1998 to approximately 33.4 million. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS, 2007) estimates that there are now 40 million people living with HIV or AIDS worldwide. Since the beginning of the epidemic, AIDS has killed more than 25 million people worldwide. It has replaced malaria and tuberculosis as the world’s deadliest infectious disease among adults and is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Fifteen million children have
been orphaned by the epidemic. Young people worldwide are the sub-group most affected while about
Department of Educational Foundations and Councelling, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Department of Psychology, Obafemi Awolowo University,Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Depratment of Local Government Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Department of Accounting & Business Education,University of Ado-Ekiti, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria
half of new HIV cases are occurring in people aged 15-24. According to Okonofua (1999) it is no longer news that the Human Immuno- deficiency Virus is now well established in Nigeria. Although the virus was first identified in Nigeria in 1988, over 4 million Nigerians were estimated to have contacted the virus by the end of 1998. This makes Nigeria the second country in Africa with the heaviest burden of the disease, in terms of absolute number of those afflicted, second only to South Africa.
The disease has now permeated the entire Nigeria society. It affected men and women in urban and rural areas, as well as adolescents, commercial sex workers, traders, high profile politicians and socialites, servicemen and women, truck drivers and students. Indeed, everyone must feel vulnerable to the disease, which is fast rampaging the most productive age groups in the Nigerian population. Several thousands have died from the disease, and this has brought untold hardship and disorganization to many Nigeria families.
In Nigeria, the burden of HIV/AIDS on the citizenry is alarming. Statistics on the spread of the disease show that Nigeria records about 1,400 new infections every day. This figure represents one new infection per minute. By October 1998, it is believed that Nigeria records about 571,036 cases of HIV infection. In the hierarchy of the world’s most infected AIDS nations, Nigeria is said to occupy the 27 position, constituting 8.9 percent of global infection and 12.5 percent of the African HIV/AIDS burden.
Professor Debo Adeyemi, one time health minister in Nigeria, describes the spread of HIV/AIDS as
alarming. According to him, about 25 million adults in Nigeria are already infected with the disease. He
reasons that with his figure, assuming that there are no new cases of infection, fatality from the disease
will surpass the totality of deaths recorded from the Nigeria civil war by the year 2010.
The disease up till now has got no cure despite many years of drug and vaccine research activities.
Although few drugs are now available that could prolong the lives of infected persons through reduction of
the load of the virus and improvement in the number of white blood cells. Such drugs are, however, very
expensive, globally, and quite scarce in Nigeria. Good nutrition and prompt treatment of presenting
diseases can also prolong the life of an infected person. Thus, the only effective way of controlling
HIV/AIDS, presently, is by prevention, with education as the main thrust of this approach.
How counsellors react to a counsellee and how they communicate these feelings are of critical
importance in counselling. Adolescents come to the counsellor for help and understanding. They bring to
the counsellor confused feeling, ideas, fears and hopes with which they are struggling. The counsellors
attitudes toward them determine in large measure the extent to which they will attempt to cope
constructively with their problems and undertake positive actions. If the counsellor demonstrates a
genuine acceptance of these adolescents, they will feel that they are received.
Inadequate knowledge of HIV/AIDS among adolescents, particularly secondary school students calls for a
study that will assess the role of school counselors in the prevention of the disease. This study
specifically investigated the level of awareness of HIV/AIDS among secondary school students in Osun
State and assessed the precautionary measures taken by secondary school students against the
transmission of HIV/AIDS. This was with a view to assessing the role of school counselors in the
prevention of the pandemic among secondary school students in Osun State.
Objectives of the Study
The specific objectives of the study are to
(a) investigate the level of awareness of HIV/AIDS among secondary school students in Osun State;
(b). assess the precautionary measures taken by secondary school students against the transmission of HIV/AIDS;
(c). appraise the activities of school counsellors in the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
In order to empirically achieve in a non – spurious manner the objectives of the study, the following hypotheses were postulated and tested:
1. Awareness/knowledge of HIV/AIDS will not significantly influence the practice of precautionary measures against the transmission of the disease.
2. Gender will have no significant influence on secondary school students’ practice of the precautionary measures against the transmission of HIV/AIDS
3. Activities of school counsellors will have no significant influence on the practice of precautionary measures against the transmission of HIV/AIDS Review of Empirical Studies
(i) Beliefs and Attitudes about AIDS
This section presents several works that have been done on AIDS. It presents the disease’s aetiology
and some forms of attitudinal changes, which have accompanied AIDS as a result of social norms and
personal beliefs. In particular, works that pertain to beliefs about AIDS in Nigeria shall be reviewed.
There are so many norms and personal beliefs and attitudes concerning AIDS that it would be almost impossible to mention them all, but the point of this study are to investigate the most prominent ones. First is the attitude of total disbelief. This is the most drastic and it comes in several forms. In Africa,
there are large groups of people that claim that AIDS is a “White Man’s Disease”, equating it with illnesses such as anorexia or bulimia (Daily Mail & Guardian, 2002). They believe it is just as foreign, claiming that their original traditions have not changed. They feel that regarding sexual practices, their traditions have not changed – which is polygamy and having concubines. They claim that Africans are not the inventors of taking intravenous drugs for pleasure, and homosexuality is a taboo. As a result, people with this belief look upon the AIDS issue with scorn and contempt. Needless to say, such people do not tend to change their attitude towards their sexual behaviour Even among scientists of the Western world, there are unbelievers Eugene (2001) of the Alive and Well magazine claim that there are no reliable HIV/AIDS tests and that those in use now, the ELISA and the Western Blot tests can only detect the presence of antibody proteins that are assumed to belong to HIV. These tests, he argues, cannot look for, and cannot